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Richard Charmley

21 November 1997

Richard Charmley

Richard Charmley is a tenant on a 73ha (180-acre) dairy

unit at Ightfield near Whitchurch in Shropshire which

supports 130 Holstein Friesians.

WELL, here in Shropshire, or as a neighbour calls us "the Cheshire Embassy", the cows are in day and night, split into two groups. The highs are being fed for 25 litres outside, and topped up with 0.4kg/litre in the parlour. The out-of-parlour feed consists of a 70% maize-based diet with first and second cut grass silage, plus 0.5kg Sopalin and 3kg of a 20% parlour nut poured in the top of the feeder wagon. This causes a bit of a problem as the nuts hit the beater in the front of the wagon and get pelted out – hitting the driver David round the ears. When he complained I told him to wear a tin hat!

The low group are being fed for 14 litres outside, topped up in the parlour at 0.4kg/litre. As we are not in stride with this system yet, we will have to report how they are milking next month.

Bactosan is still ranging between 30 and 50. Im running out of ideas how to get below 30 – everywhere is rinsed out with hyperchloride and scrubbed clean. I shouldnt think the bubonic plague could survive in my tanks and pipelines, but anyway my milk buyer is sending the BBM (Bodfari Bactoscan Man) out to see if he can solve this difficulty.

The big news this month is that we have bought a new second-hand tractor – a B-reg Ford 7610 with Tima loader. Having never owned such a big tractor, when anybody calls they are dragged around the back to view it. However, one sharp visitor slipped out the back first and poured oil under the back axle. When I proudly showed him the tractor, I fell for it big-style.

Breeding news: This month I have had a GSIP heifer calve by Artic Mascot. She is fantastic, having been calved 65 days and still giving 34 litres a day. Two weeks ago I took delivery of another 20 straws – all but five straws have now been used. It is the first GSIP bull that I have used and then used again.

The rugby season is well under way with Whitchurchs first League result – played five, won five. I have been training twice a week and it looks like it has paid off as I have been selected for Saturdays league game. Looks like an early night on Friday, after a large plate of pasta – what a way to end the week!n

Cows are now in on winter rations comprising maize and grass silage and a 20% fed nut through the wagon – which is causing headaches.

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Richard Charmley

24 October 1997

Richard Charmley

Richard Charmley is a tenant on a 73ha (180-acre) dairy

unit at Ightfield near Whitchurch in Shropshire which

supports 130 Holstein Friesian cows.

EVERY fortnight we have our regular vet visit; Den arrives at 8am and then stops for a bit of bacon with us.

On his last call a lot of the PDs put forward failed to be in calf. After the fourth cow, Den looked at me and said: "Looks like a miserable breakfast."

He reckons the cows have been short of energy this summer. We had not buffer fed any silage, after listening to the advice of a New Zealand grass consultant. Den thought that had been a bad move, a disaster waiting to happen on the fertility front.

We started feeding silage on Oct 2, splitting the cows into high and low yielders. The lows are running out in the day and have access to third cut, while the highs are in full time on first cut. Milk yield has stopped dropping, and in fact has gone up by 50 litres a day.

But the first cut has made the muck loose. Until we have the maize in the clamp – which looks like being on Oct 15 – we will mix some barley straw with the silage.

Bodfari is dropping its price along with everybody else. The sting is that by Jan 1998, cell counts will have to be under 175, Bactoscans under 30. With our Bactoscans currently running at 50, and cell counts at 200, urgent action is needed. So far we have fitted a hyperchloride rinse to the auto tank washer.

Den seems to think the problem lies within the parlour, and after a quick calculation he thought our liners should be changed after 80 days. Our present milking liner life is 160 days. We put new liners in that day, and what a difference – much quieter milking. So it looks like we will have to change them every 80 days, which is good news for our dairy supplier.

We have finally reseeded the last 10 acres. We sow the seed ourselves using a Tasker fertiliser spinner, mixing 1 acre grass seed (1kg) to 100kg fertiliser, going over the field twice, applying 50kg each time. The problem this year is that in an attempt to save money I used some old fertiliser which was a bit damp and kept blocking the spinner. The solution was persuading my jet lagged father – having just arrived back from holiday – to ride in the back of the spinner to poke the mix through.n

A shortage of energy during the summer meant some of Richard Charmleys cows were not in calf when the vet PDd them at the last visit.

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Richard Charmley

26 September 1997

Richard Charmley

Richard Charmley is a tenant on a 73ha (180-acre) dairy unit at Ightfield near Whitchurch in Shropshire,

supporting 130 Holstein Friesians.

OUR new recruit David has settled in well. Hes getting used to my antics, and up to now I have only caught him once with the electric fencer. He got his own back by leaving the portable unit on the tractor, with the lead laid across the seat.

The stubble turnips have finished and for the last 10 days we had to let the cows loose over them as they were starting to rot. The field is now going to be put back into grass, and I was told a light harrowing and a bit of grass seed would be enough. This was not the case as there were a lot of leaves and turnips still on the top, so the field was ploughed, then 1t of lime/acre was applied and a long-term grazing grass ley sown. It was then rolled with my new Grays 10ft roller, bought from a local machinery dealer, who, after reading my last article about budgeting for new machinery suggested he could supply all my needs.

First and second cut silage has now been tested and results are shown in the table. First cut was treated with Live System, second cut with Add-F. Both seemed to have done a good job, but we will have to wait and see how the cows feed on it in the winter.

The maize is a lot taller than last year, but has a much smaller cob. Harvesting will be much earlier this year compared with Oct 26 last year. But nightshade looks like it is going to be a bigger problem next year.

Much of my winter straw was bought in round bales from a local farmer at the rugby club promise auction, but I couldnt remember how much I had bought – or paid for it. But I soon found out when I arrived back one afternoon last week to find straw bales all over the yard. The rest will now be bought on a monthly basis as we have run out of storage.

I have not yet made the grade for the Whitchurch first team, I think I must be suffering from the rip dip effect – a Dutch genetic phenomenon causing a late peak.n

Both first and second cut silages seem to have done well, but the proof will be how cows feed on it

this winter, says Richard Charmley.

Silage test results

1st cut2nd cut

Dry Matter28%25%


Crude Protein19%14%



Ammonia Nitrogen7021

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Richard Charmley

29 August 1997

Richard Charmley

Richard Charmley is a tenant on a 73ha (180-acre) dairy unit at Ightfield near Whitchurch

in Shropshire which supports 130 Holstein Friesian.

DURING the recent long, dry spell, quite a lot of maintenance around the farm has been done with my trusty tractor-mounted post knocker (which our previous Genus consultant told us to cut in half to reduce the farm repair bills).This is now one piece of machinery less for this years budget which we have just completed and includes a second hand vacci-tanker and a pickup.

This may seem extravagant but we have often scraped through the last 12 months with a bare minimum, borrowing off neighbours, as well as using a contractors Hymac which was parked in the yard all spring. This proved to be a bonus as I used it to load big bag fertiliser, although I nearly took the side of the shed out in the process.

Aug 1 saw the new R registration plates on the road. However, we did not have to join the rush or spend the cash to obtain one as our Land Rover is R registration (1976). They tell me I only have to keep it a few more years and then it becomes exempt from road tax, but I may prefer the budgeted pick up.

After the drop in milk price plus protein capping the annual Bodfari milk producers AGM was well attended. We went to see if we could gain any answers for this, only to discover a speaker had been laid on to take up most of the time and steam out of the situation. This left very little chance for any questions, causing many people to feel they had wasted their time attending.

Throughout July, the cows have milked reasonably well averaging 24 litres a cow with a feed rate of 0.24kg cake/litre. The last week in July we turned cows out into what I remember calling the Ghobi desert which is now a massive crop of stubble turnips. The big problem this time is getting the cows to eat the turnips due to exceptional growing conditions. The only solution was to shut the cows on the turnips in the morning, letting them out at lunchtime. During the first two weeks in August the cows have averaged 26 litres at a lower feed rate of 0.22kg cake/litre.

Rugby training has been underway now for a month on Tuesday and Thursday nights with our new coach Ginger. He is an Army PT instructor, and has told us to refer to the opposition as the enemy. It could be an interesting season. &#42

The last 12 months have meant scraping by with the bare minimum of machinery and often borrowing from neighbours, says Richard Charmley. But second-hand pick-up and a vacci-tanker are in the budget and on the shopping list for this year.

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Richard Charmley

1 August 1997

Richard Charmley

Richard Charmley is a tenant on a 73ha (180-acre) dairy unit at Ightfield near Whitchurch in Shropshire which supports 130 Holstein Friesian.

THIS has been a bit of a quiet month work wise, leaving time to follow the Lions rugby. I watched the last match in a local pub, and hitched a friendly lift home in the local police riot van (you should have seen Caroles face; I am still trying to gain brownie points back).

It seemed the appropriate time to take a day off, so off I went on an AI refresher course as we felt there was room for improvement. Our Herdwatch showed that of 102 cows served, 45% held to first service, with 62% of the 52 cows served at second service holding.

After spending all day at the abattoir, it transpired that by pulling my AI gun back 2mm a 15% improvement on first service may be achieved. It was an excellent day, well worthwhile, and should be done every two years to correct any bad habits.

We have noticed a lot of cows with runny noses in the past few weeks. Don the vet said a box of tissues was not the answer and suggested we vaccinated them for IBR. After doing this it was decided that we needed a better handling facility and on my trip to the Royal Show I purchased a self-locking yolk to fit the end of our cattle race.

This year I arrived home from the show a good two hours earlier as I had read the map instead of following a coach with Carlisle on the boot, which happened to be on an outward journey southbound.

The weather delayed second cut silage by two weeks, we eventually cut on Fri, July 4 and left it to dry on Saturday, picking up on Sunday. We were unable to spread it as everybody wanted the contractor at once, so we used Add-F acid at three litres to the tonne hoping for at least 25% dry matter.

We did not have enough fertiliser in store so we paid a local contractor £90/t including spreading and applied three bags of 25:55 an acre, which made my early fertiliser buying seem expensive.

This week has been spent topping all the grazing ground with our trusty two-drum mower. It is a bit slow but does a good clean job, and what bit of swath that is left the cows either kick about or eat.n

Richard Charmley has vaccinated the dairy herd against IBR – and on the grazing front he has been topping to maintain sward quality.

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Richard Charmley

11 April 1997

Richard Charmley

Richard Charmley is a tenant on a 73ha (180-acre) dairy unit at Ightfield near Whitchurch in Shropshire which supports 130 Holstein Friesian and nine pigs.

WE have recently had some good heifers come into the herd by Lexis, Sunnyboy and Inspiration with PINS of 60.

They have also had heifer calves by Marconi, an easy-calving bull resulting in offspring with a PIN of 80.

They are milking well and pushing our quota threshold to nearer 2.5% over, which I feel is a little too much, so the calves on the bucket and the weaned calves are now having it thrown down the trough and looking healthy on it.

Up until now we have enjoyed a milk price of 26p/litre and any drop in this for the next 12 months will be a big concern, as we have done budgets and set targets. We told this to our Bodfari farm liaison officer when he called for a chat and coffee, and had to take cover under the stairs.

On another note we have had problem calvings where calves did not seem to have the will to live. After mentioning this to Den, the vet, a series of blood tests were taken. The results showed a deficiency in copper and selenium. Two decisions were made – first, to feed all dry cows 0.5kg of Soprolin right through their dry period to increase UDP, costing £7 a cow; second, to give all cows and heifers two trace element boluses, as we are approaching turnout and the cows will be fed less concentrate.

At the same time we also vaccinated for lepto. Tempers were frayed after nosing 10 – we still had 130 to go – although it was good training for the rugby, especially since Whitchurch has reached the final of the North Midlands cup against Worcester on Apr 27.

One of our two ageing tractors has been terminally ill for some time. Mechanic father and brother fitted a new cheap clutch at Christmas time, but this has gone again. Now we have to decide whether we change the tractor for a decent tractor and loader or buy a loading shovel. Maybe the milk price/bank manager will decide this for us.n

Richard Charmley has done budgets and set targets assuming a milk price of 26ppl, and any drop in this for the next 12 months will be a big concern.

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